Strasbourg forward Ludovic Ajorque threw Marseille a lifeline in their push for a Champions League spot next season as the frontman struck twice in the space of two minutes against Lyon in a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and their Barcelona team-mates had been unable to breach the OL defence in their European clash two-and-a-half weeks earlier, but ahead of the return leg at Camp Nou they were shown by the former Clermont attacker, who is playing his first season in Ligue 1, how it is done.
Indeed, so strong was the performance of the physical striker, he achieved the highest score in the Ligue 1 Performance Index, which is a score out of 100 given by Opta each week to determine the leading performers in the league. Ajorque clocked up an impressive 97.8.
With his side trailing 2-0, he sent a precise header into the net from 12 yards out, then a matter of moments later had another, latching onto a through pass from Adrien Thomasson before delivering a powerful strike into the corner of the goal.
Another player who inspired his side back from a 2-0 deficit at the weekend was Angelo Fulgini, though the Angers midfielder did so in even more trying circumstances.
Stephane Moulin’s side were reduced to 10 men shortly after the 22-year-old was introduced, but that did not stop him setting the recovery in motion by clipping home after a well-timed run forward.
And he refused to allow the game to get away from his side, playing a terrific role in the second. First he punctured a hole in the Montpellier midfield with a sharp dribble, and after receiving the ball back, he played a delicious reverse pass that allowed Stephane Bahoken to level the game.
Completing the podium this week is Reims winger Arber Zeneli, whose form since arriving in France from Heerenveen has been exceptional. Although there was a dose of luck in his goal in a 1-1 draw with Dijon – the ball bounced straight back to him after Boulaye Dia had hit the post – his overall display was once again of the highest order.
Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao narrowly missed out on the top three, despite marking a special weekend with a goal.
The Colombian hitman was playing in his 100th Ligue 1 match and marked it with his 62nd goal – a header in the 1-1 draw with Bordeaux, which saw his Monaco side edge further away from the relegation zone.
While Leonardo Jardim’s side are still looking warily down, two of the leading forwards from the Champions League pack were on target this weekend and have broken into the Top 10 thanks to decisive contributions.
Nicolas Pepe left it late to help Lille overcome Saint-Etienne 1-0 away from home, but even before that moment he had been their outstanding player, showing great creativity and pace down the left only to be foiled by Stephane Ruffier in the home goal on innumerable occasions.
And Mario Balotelli became the first Marseille player in more than four decades to score in his first four home matches for the club, sealing the winner against the Nice outfit he departed in the January transfer window.
Completing the line-up of players, which uniquely this season have come from 10 different clubs, are Caen forward Casimir Ninga and Rennes utility attacker Adrien Hunou, who were both on target as the Bretons won that matchup between the clubs 3-1 at home, sending them into their Arsenal Europa League rematch in midweek in the best possible manner.
Next weekend, Paris Saint-Germain’s home match against Marseille will take the spotlight, with Balotelli hoping to prove decisive for OM once more.